U.S. Faulted for Scant Oversight on GMOs

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January 28, 2006 | 4,652 views

A report issued by the Department of Agriculture's own auditor stated that the department has failed to regulate field trials of genetically engineered crops adequately, thereby raising the risk of unintended environmental consequences.

Failed to Notice Violations

The report found that regulators failed to notice rules violations, inspect planting sites, or make sure that GM crops were destroyed following the field trials. In many cases, regulators had no idea where field trials were even as they granted permits for them.

Harm to Health and Environment

Environmental groups say that genetically engineered crops can cause environmental harm in several ways, such as by herbicide resistance spreading to weeds. They also worry that crops engineered to produce drugs or industrial chemical could get into the food supply.

Making Changes

The Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says that it is already taking steps to adopt many of the recommendations made in the report.

Lack of oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has long been one of my many concerns regarding your food supply being tainted by the use of genetically modified (GM) crops. At least this report may mean that some of those concerns will be addressed.

Of course, if the regulators had reviewed the evidence presented on this site, they would've already known about the potential dangers of GM plants grown to make useless drugs cross-pollinating with crops used to make beer and the new breed of super weeds.

But even with government oversight, the effects of genetic modification on the environment and on our health is unknown. Essentially, it is a massive and risky experiment on the whole human race and the earth's biosphere.

It isn't a question of whether or not GM plants will mix with non-GM crops; it is a matter of when they will do so. We do not have control over the wind, the birds and the soil as regulators must believe that we do.

Fortunately for now at least, GM foods can be avoided to a great extent. And since there's no telling what effects GM foods will have on your body, I believe it would be wise to try and avoid them at all costs.

To guide you in understanding the problems associated with GM foods, I strongly recommend reading the incredible series Seeds of Doubt, written by staffers at the Sacramento Bee. Additionally, the steps below will help you steer clear of GM products for good:

1) Avoid Processed Foods. As you learned, 75 percent of processed foods contain GM ingredients. There are many reasons why processed foods are not optimal for your health -- for instance they often contain trans fat, acrylamide and little nutritional value -- so avoiding them will not only help you to cut back on the amount of GM foods you are consuming, but will also boost your health.

2) Read produce and food labels. GM soybeans and corn make up the largest portion of genetically modified crops. When looking at a product label, if any ingredients such as corn flour and meal, dextrin, starch, soy sauce, margarine, and tofu (to name a few) are listed, there's a good chance it has come from GM corn or soy, unless it's listed as organic.

3) Buy organic produce. Buying organic is currently the best way to ensure that your food has not been genetically modified. By definition, food that is certified organic must be free from all GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs.

4) Look at Produce Stickers. Those little stickers on fruit and vegetables contain different PLU codes depending on whether the fruit was conventionally grown, organically grown or genetically modified. The PLU code for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers, organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number nine, and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number eight.

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